Vonk lands in Dakota

Last week Governor-elect Chet Culver, a Democrat, announced he would be replacing Iowa Department of Natural Resources director Jeff Vonk who had been working for Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack for the past five years.  This morning, South Dakota’s Republican governor announced Vonk will be working for him.

Gov. Rounds appoints Vonk to head Department of Game, Fish & Parks

PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Mike Rounds today announced the selection of Jeffrey R. Vonk, Indianola, Iowa, as the new Secretary for the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.  Vonk will begin his duties on January 16, 2007.

“I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Jeff Vonk as Secretary of the Department of Game, Fish and Parks,” said Gov. Rounds.  “Jeff brings many years of experience, serving in a similar position in Iowa, as well as previous experience working with the United States Department of Agriculture.  Recognizing the unique qualities necessary to work in this position, it is very important that we have a person with Jeff’s talents and proven abilities ready to lead this Department.   

Vonk is currently the Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and has served in that position since 2001.  As director, Vonk’s duties have been two-fold.  He has lead and managed Iowa’s hunting, fishing, law enforcement, state parks and forestry programs.  He also has lead and managed all environmental regulatory programs, including air, water, energy and waste management, field services and compliance, and geological survey and land quality.

From 1979 to 2001, Vonk worked with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.  He served as a field conservation officer in New York State, a technical advisory in Peruvian Andes, Director of Agency Operations in the Caribbean and State Conservationist in both Iowa and California.  Finally, he served as regional conservationist in the Northern Great Plains region.  In 2001, Vonk received the Presidential Meritorious Service Award, the highest recognition offered to federal Career Civil servants.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the Department in working with all South Dakotans in conserving, protecting and enhancing our wildlife resources and parks.  I bring with me a passion for the outdoors, years of conservation experience and a desire to provide for even greater outdoor recreation opportunities for our citizens” said Vonk.

Vonk is a graduate of the University of Maine at Orono with a M.S. in Wildlife Management.  He also holds a B.S in Forest Biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry, New York, and a B.S. in Biology from Syracuse University, New York.

Vonk and his wife Mary Anne will make their home in Pierre.

Vonk fills the Cabinet Secretary position left vacant by the retirement of John Cooper.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.